Making the plinth for my questionnaire has been interesting. I had initially wanted to make something quite complicated. I wanted it to be an object in itself. This is easier said than done though. Ideally it would have been galvanised steel and quite carefully designed.
That’s way out of my price range though. The problem with these kind of things is that they become an integral part of the work. They’re objects in their own right. That’s a good thing. The problem is that it’s only a good thing if you do it really well. You can make a great galvanised steel lectern but if there’s part of the design that is distracting for some reason the whole thing is compromised. It’s bad for the project.
I decided then to build a simple plinth structure from the same materials as everyone else. This way the plinth doesn’t look too much like it’s trying to steal the show. It just looks like it’s part of the show. Simon has commented that it looks like something from an eighties sci-fi television programme. Buck Rodgers, perhaps. I quite like this. I think it’s a good aesthetic for digital art, as long as it’s balanced out in some way. I think digital art is probably more linked with pop culture than many other kinds of art. A reference like this doesn’t hurt the work. I think people can ride with that reference and enjoy it without it becoming overbearing. Saying that, I’m sure it won’t even occur to most people.
The soft glow of the perspex is nice. It feels different to a computer screen. There’s definitely a sense that you’re interacting with a different entity to a website. I wanted to see how that would work, even though humjam is the longer term home for the work. (This is one of the reasons I like the idea of art on the internet. It can stay there and do its thing at all times. The user inputted content can grow at its own pace.)
The perspex has been a frustrating hassle. While it takes a projection well, the quality is slightly soft. This is what gives its soft glow. It works but it has been a frustration in that it has dictated the size of some of the fonts. After a few sessions of experimentation with different people I have found a nice angle for the projector to be focused. For a while it was very difficult to get a consistent level of focus across the screen. I’m happier with this now. I do want to tweak the angle slightly as the square of the questionnaire box is a little off. Counter-intuitively, the best angle for focus has not been square to the perspex.
Regarding surrounding details of the plinth, I had intended to letterpress the piece title on to a sheet of lining paper to be hung from the ceiling behind the plinth by bulldog clips. On either side of that, I planned on hanging two adjacent strips of lining paper with a simple letterpressed design on them. I couldn’t do this because the letterpress printing equipment was the wrong size. I had thought I’d be able to feed it through.
I decided to go for a simpler option. I would print my title on decent quality card and cut a window in the card in the middle of the title. The thing I like about using the letterpress is the fact it’s so loaded with history. When you use a letterpress you’re referencing William Caxton and the Gutenberg bible and more immediately the directly present touch and weight of paper and ink. With this simple paper frame on top of the screen there is a nice contrast between old and new media. The project is concerned with language and its history (among other things) it is fitting that the final thing should make a nod to that. I considered a few ways of laying the paper on top of the perspex. I was going to glue it on so it would be flat. When I placed the sheet on the screen I liked it as it was. The way the sheet curls up at the edges emphasises its quality and weight as paper. I decided to keep this. That’s why I’ve just glued it at the top to keep it fixed.